On Monday, December 4, 2017 my right knee went missing. It had provided 63 years of walking, hiking, skiing, whatevering and it was not functioning as it should because of damage caused by a fall and by illness. The knee was replaced with a modern medical miracle, one that has become so ho-hum that you probably know at least five people who have had knee replacements.
It really helped to talk to all those people prior to my surgery, to hear their advice and learn of tricks they used. The one thing I heard over and over was “do the exercises.” One other comment, made quietly, also was handy. “You will not always get to the bathroom on time.”
When I’ve gone through SOMETHING, whether it is a physical activity like this surgery, or an emotional voyage, like a divorce, it can be very helpful to hear first person experiences. It has let me know that what I was feeling was pretty typical…or not.
It was during one of those discussions with a friend that the idea of an allergy to the implant hit me! I can’t wear pierced earrings of any kind. Sterling silver, 24k gold, surgical steel, platinum, titanium, even metal with ceramic and plastic pieces. All fingers and toes crossed.
The first few days after the surgery were spent discovering that the pain meds and I do not get along. This experience made it very clear to me just how different our body chemistries are. I was nauseous and just felt overall terrible. I had none of the “highs” users addicted to OxyContin enjoy. They obviously do not experience all the “yuks” I had or they would move to some other drug of choice. This lightbulb moment made me realize that “addiction” is a horrible thing and we need a multi-prong attack to help people get off the drugs but also help them learn coping mechanisms for the issues in life that have made them (all of us to some extent) reach for help after a hard day.
Once they moved me down a notch in the pain medical pharmacopeia, my overall body feelings were healthier, and I could get on with the business of healing.
One thing that has made this experience easier is the time people have taken to drive me to my appointments (Graham can’t drive because he is legally blind), take him to the grocery store, run to the drug store f0r the replacement pain medicine, and just those who stop in for a few minutes with a smile to help distract me from focusing on the knee which is yelling “OW” most of the time.
And then, there is the physical therapist. Most knee patients have love-hate relationships with the love coming much later in the time table. Mine earned it on Day One when he enthusiastically exclaimed how well I was doing. He was so effusive that I started tearing up. “No,” he said, “It’s good, really!”
So, I explained. Anyone who knows me knows “body perfect” is not now nor has ever been a goal of mine. I try to eat healthy food and not overindulge with the “fun” things but taking the time others do to firm up and have their body parts move better has not been my thing.
Here I am, 63-years-old, and this is the SECOND time where I experienced BODY PRIDE. The first was after my first baby was born and I was able to nurse him. The idea that this body had produced that miracle and could sustain it nutritionally. Amazingly powerful feeling.
And now, in pain and hobbling, I am ahead of benchmarks. Me…the “couch potato” (well, maybe desk sitter is more like it).
BETH AND HER TRUSTY WALKER
Altogether, the friends giving their time and sharing their good wishes and this professional who sees a lot of people like me are my cheerleaders. They have resumed the role to help me get better. And while their time investment may only have been thirty minutes or a couple of hours a week, they are a component in my healing that will no doubt get me to the finish line easier.
So, thank you, each of you, who send a joke, a funny picture, a phone call, a visit, a drive in the car. To all of you who are my cheerleaders, I salute you.
[Beth Rankin is a regular contributor to Columnist with a View. She and her husband Graham live in McMinnville, Oregon. This article which chronicles her recent knee replacement surgery first appeared in her blog GOING PLACES LIVING LIFE.]
Some days I think people choose to miss the point.
In the weeks following the election, those of us opposing the coming Administration and protesting what we see as very problematic Cabinet appointments and flag-raising political maneuvering, have received a similar scolding from Conservatives as we engage in debate on the issues. It’s an attempt to call us out for our alleged hypocrisy:
“I see, you’re all for diversity unless someone disagrees with you! Apparently we don’t get included in that! You Liberals are so tolerant!” they say.
Well, they’re partially right.
The commitment to diversity and equality means demanding that everyone gets a seat at the table; that each person’s inherent worth is recognized there, that no one is devalued or excluded based on fixed and fundamental part of their identity: skin color, gender, nation of origin, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
This means that we declare every human being equally valuable. It does not mean we treat all behavior equally:
If your opinion directly endangers people based on those essential parts of who they are–we’ll pushback.
If your worldview permits you to treat someone as less deserving of civil rights or it discards their basic humanity–your worldview is a threat to true diversity.
If your evaluation of another makes you more tolerant of their mistreatment or less outraged by hate crimes against them, that’s a fundamental problem.
Active discrimination and violence don’t get a seat at the table. They don’t get proximity to do further damage to people.
For example, a gay teenager and a Baptist preacher are both invited into genuine community and both welcomed into conversation, but if the preacher insists on the inherent depravity of the teenager, if he or she cannot see the teenager as fully equal to them in the eyes of God or the Law, this is a barrier to diverse community and an assault on the teenager’s very identity. The teenager’s place at the table is terribly altered by the preacher, not the other way around.
Diversity will always err on the side of the marginalized and always be an inconvenience to the privileged because diversity seeks justice. It demands benevolence for those who are not experiencing it.
The contention for the past year has been that all political perspectives are valid, but I won’t consent to that and it’s a matter of personal safety. No individual groups of white people are explicitly, measurably endangered by a Progressive platform, they receive the same consideration. But I can illustrate the specific ways people of color, immigrants, Muslims, women, and the LGBTQ community are less safe and less represented by the coming Administration, which is already by its conduct, a movement of exclusion.
JOHN PAVLOVITZ, AUTHOR
Friend, I can respect you and seek to understand you, while declaring your actions or those of politicians you support, completely reprehensible. I can criticize your conduct or the results of your behavior without attacking your worth. That’s how this works.
If you believe people of color are simply inferior to white people, you’re going to have to work hard to stay at the table.
If you claim LGBTQ to be abominations, you’ll have to do better.
If you believe Muslims are likely terrorists, you probably won’t feel welcome at the table for long.
And so no, it isn’t at all hypocritical to champion diversity and to confront injustice simultaneously. They are fully collaborative and integrated movements.
All people are welcomed at the table but bigotry isn’t, so save the allegation that its acceptance is a requirement for me.
Equality demands decency toward humanity’s diverse gathering–and it’s what I demand.
AVAILABLE THROUGH AMAZON.COM OR LOCAL BOOKSTORES
[The above article appeared first in John Pavlovitz’s STUFF THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID on January 12, 2017. Permission pending.]
Repeating stories multiple times may be normal for some seniors who are active and lead fulfilling lives–a natural part of aging–but that was NOT normal for my quick-witted, sometimes sharp-tongued mother. It was just that small shift in her behavior that made me stop in my tracks more than once when having conversations with her that usually ended up in frustration for us both.
One afternoon in 2002 while she was babysitting my son for me, she called and asked if she could give my toddler a peanut butter cup. That’s when I had that awful sense of dread and my pulse quickened. My son has a high peanut allergy and she knew this. So began the slow spiral of watching my beautiful mom dwindle away to Alzheimer’s Disease–and watching the startling impact that it would have on my father as well.
Today, Mom resides in a skilled nursing facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Dad goes to see her almost every day. She has no memory (or at least any that make sense in her “babbling speak”) or ability to do anything for herself and requires 24-hour-care. She is at the end stages of Alzheimer’s.
The Search for the Right Fit
THE AUTHOR AND HER MOTHER
Getting Mom to her current “home” was not easy by any stretch, and I wonder how much worse it could have been had I not been a professional in Geriatric-Healthcare. I currently work in Michigan for the nation’s largest home health and hospice provider as a home health specialist, coordinating new patients and helping them transition home from a hospital or skilled nursing facility, and also by partnering with local physicians who recognize the need for medical home care for their patients.
I made the jump from advertising sales to a marketing and admissions director at a skilled nursing and rehab center while researching Alzheimer’s disease for my own family. One of my advertising clients was the marketing and admissions director in this facility, and I was constantly asking her for advice on what she thought we should be doing for my mom and dad based on her expertise. She was eventually promoted to executive director and ended up hiring me to fill the marketing position. (I’m sure that I was driving her nuts with questions!) I couldn’t get my hands on enough resources and I found my way into an industry that fit me perfectly, through the fear and emotions of watching what was happening to my own mom. I hoped that I could help guide others through my own experience.
The worst part about watching my parents unravel was also watching my dad’s health decline due to caregiver burnout. It is a real phenomenon and it was petrifying to watch. Dad’s goal was to hide Mom’s disease to everyone in the family (as if we didn’t see it) and their community to save her dignity and to hide his own fears.
One evening, they were at a local restaurant for dinner and Dad was so physically and mentally exhausted that he went into an almost catatonic state. Luckily, the restaurant owners knew my parents and their situation, called an ambulance, and contacted my brother. None of us three kids were in Cincinnati this particular evening. I was living in Michigan, my younger brother was living in Missouri, and my older brother who DID live in Cincinnati happened to be vacationing in Colorado.
So, sick to my stomach, I packed a bag and started the drive home to Cincinnati. Dad was admitted to the hospital and cousin Patty stayed with my mom until we could all get there.
My dad was in the hospital for four days and the main diagnosis on his chart was exhaustion! He has no recollection of those first few days but did make a full recovery. My brothers and I met at my parent’s house within the day and finally saw firsthand how bad it had become at home. Mom was totally dependent on Dad and was also living in a state of high anxiety. In talking with my dad in the hospital, we found out that Mom had also become violent with him because she didn’t know who this “strange man was” in their house. Finally, it was clear to Dad that keeping Mom at home was unsafe, and so began the process of finding an assisted living/memory care facility with 24-hour-care. One might think this was the easiest part for me, since I was already working in Geriatric-Healthcare, but nothing could have been further from the truth.
My parents still lived in Western Hills in Cincinnati, and my dad was set on putting her into a retirement village on that side of town. I didn’t think this was the best choice with Mom’s anxious and erratic behavior patterns, and met with their folks to discuss it. I asked them to please go to meet Mom at home and do a complete assessment on her, as I didn’t think that she would “fit” into their calm environment with her wandering and behaviors. They stated that an assessment wasn’t necessary, as they felt comfortable about effectively taking care of her. Dad was also insistent about this facility as he already knew some of the staff. Mom was admitted as a Private Pay Resident. Unfortunately, I was absolutely correct, and she was sent in and out of the hospital Geriatric-Psychiatric unit to “calm” her down. She was put on heavy psychotropic medications, and after the third hospital trip, the Retirement Village called my dad and stated that she could not return, as she was not appropriate for their setting and that she was basically too much to handle. Shocker, right? I was livid!
Here we were, right back where we started, with no prospects of what to do with her and facing a hospital discharge within 24 hours. Other facilities also declined to accept her.
MARIA’S MOM NOW
Finally, we found a facility who accepted Mom and she still resides there today. They have done a wonderful job! They have been so kind to my dad, as well. Living through the first part of this journey into Alzheimer’s with my mom and dad has had a huge impact on me. I have now made it my mission to help people find help and resources during these times of crisis.
LOVING CARE IN APPROPRIATE FACILITIES
[Maria (Martini) Deneau is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, the only daughter of four children born to Bernard and Evelyn Martini. She is a graduate of The University of Cincinnati and is currently employed by Kindred Healthcare–Kindred at Home in Southwest Michigan as a Home Health Specialist. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, having worked in Geriatric healthcare since 2007. Maria is a National advocate for The Alzheimer’s Association, serving as Ambassador for the 6th Congressional District in Michigan and Washington D.C. She also serves as a Board Member for Fund Development at Senior Services of Kalamazoo County and as a Board Member for Professionals Focused on Aging in Kalamazoo, MI. She has been recognized by the Ohio State Senate for Outstanding Achievement and exemplary service to the community and its youth while living in Cincinnati, Ohio.]